Created: 05/28/2014 6:38 PM KAALtv.com
By: Meghan Reistad
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Senator Amy Klobuchar, MnDOT and local officials met in Southern Minnesota Wednesday for a tour of one of the most dangerous roadways in the state, Highway 14.
"Over the last 20 years over 125 people have died on this road. Think of that, 125 people because of the safety concerns on Highway 14," said Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Safety is of utmost concern, but so are the economics of those improvements.
"I see this as an opportunity not just to improve safety but an opportunity to build commerce. Southern Minnesota is the region with the lowest unemployment rate in state. Southern Minnesota is expanding and growing with farming, manufacturing and medical," said Klobuchar.
The Corridors of Commerce program allocated $300 million dollars for highway reconstruction around the state, but supporters of the highway 14 expansion say that is only a down payment for what is needed.
The goal of the tour is to push for increased state and federal funding to expand the roadway from two to four lanes.
Beginning July 1st, the first phase of improvements will begin, a $16-20 million dollar expansion between Owatonna and Dodge Center.
"It's very practical, dollars and sense and it affects all the lives of all the people in the southern area," said MnDOT commissioner, Charlie Zelle.
But, an additional $200 million dollars will be needed to finish the job.
Ultimately supporters of Highway 14 improvements say it is about the long haul, with a goal of keeping the region strong by providing a safe route for businesses and motorists in Southern Minnesota.